Cheese of the Week: Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor

Cheese of the Week: Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor

Cheese of The Week is a new weekly feature on The Daily Meal, drawing on the expertise of internationally renowned cheese expert and consultant Raymond Hook. What follows is based on an interview with Hook.

Want more? Click here for the Cheese of the Week Slideshow.

Cypress Grove is best known for its Humboldt Fog goat cheese, but this other cheese in their canon, creamy and loaded with truffle flavor, is certainly one that’s worth knowing as well.

This soft-ripened cheese was actually created by accident, by Cypress Grove founder Mary Keehn. She took some fresh goat cheese, or chèvre, and added in truffles, but the resulting product had a flavor that highlighted neither the chèvre nor the truffles. In a last-ditch effort, she inoculated the cheese with mold, and allowed it to become a bloomy-rind cheese, fresh-ripened in this case. Over time she perfected the formula, molding the cheese into 3-pound wheels and allowing it to ripen for about 12 to 14 days, and the end result was the creamy, earthy cheese we see today.

Cheese has that creamy, crumbly, almost fudgy consistency and floral minerality of the finest goat cheeses, with a potent but not overpowering earthy flavor and fragrance added by the black summer truffles. As the cheese continues to age (its total life span is about 10 weeks), the outermost layer inside the rind continues to break down in a process called proteolysis, which gives it a more "melty" consistency and adds to the cheese’s complexity.

Whereas most other cheeses that incorporate truffles (like pecorino) are aged, the fact that this remains so young really helps the truffles maintain a lot of their character. "A lot of the perfume of the truffle goes away in aged cheese," according to Hook. "But even though it’s young, it’s still one of the few soft-ripened goat cheeses that can stand up to a red wine," he added. A young zinfandel or pinot noir is recommended.

Click here to see a recipe for Truffle Tremor steak butter.

Cheese of the Week: Truffle Tremor

Amongst the many yummy treats my mom would purchase at Market Hall was this amazing creation: Truffle Butter. I should not admit this, but as a kid I actually used to eat tiny bits of it, guiltily trying to hide behind fridge door. Thus began a lifelong love affair with all things truffle.

Truffle Tremor, courtesy of artizone on Flickr

A few years ago while visiting my favorite SF cheese shop (Cowgirl Creamery in the ferry building), I asked to taste anything with truffles. The woman smiled and told me she had exactly what I wanted. Enter Truffle Tremor. Like most of my favorite goats, Truffle Tremor has a moderately firm center, a more creamy outside, and a firm rind encasing it all. Unlike my other favorite goats, however, Truffle Tremor has bits of truffle in the center and an infusion of it in the creamiest layer. Increasing its flavor as it ages, it’s initially a medium bodied, earthy goat with a slightly gamy aftertaste. Truffle Tremor is brought to us all by Cypress Grove, home of the famous and fabulous Humboldt fog.

I know that my truffle butter sneaking, seven-year-old self would have loved Truffle Tremor. Now, I spread it on Acme Sourdough baguette with a crisp white wine. This cheese may be a little strong for those new to the cheese tasting world, but well worth a try either way. Shay (my fiance), who unlike me, did not grow up eating gamy goats at the ripe age of seven, tried it and now insists on purchasing it every time we go to the ferry building. While I would not recommend Truffle Tremor to most seven year olds, to a truffle loving adult, it’s perfection.

Truffle Turophobia??…

Truffle Turophobia??…

Truffle Turophobia?? (Fear of Truffle Cheese?)…Not in this household. But what I have learned about Truffles is that people either love them, or hate them with little middle ground if any.

I had been considering writing a blog post on Truffles for some time, but as soon as the most recent issue of Sacramento Magazine showed up in my mailbox, I just knew that the time was now to write the story.

While truffles have been popular in high-end cuisine for some time, it seems as if truffles have made their way into many common items, such oils, salts, honey, and even potato chips.

The chef community refers to truffles as “Black Gold” and French gourmand, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called truffles "the diamond of the kitchen", so it’s no wonder why when these little morsels can fetch up to $200+ an ounce. Just what are these little black lumps of coal, and more importantly, why are they so darned expensive?? Let’s take a closer look…

A truffle is the fruiting body of an underground fungus predominantly one of the many species of the genus Tuber. These small little growths develop on the roots of chestnut and oak trees.

This delicacy has been an important ingredient in French, Italian, and Spanish cooking. While the truffles are mentioned as early as the fourth century B.C., it was relatively a mystery on how (where, and why) to find them.

By the late 1700’s it was discovered that truffles could be cultivated. Simply known in France as trufficulture, Pierre II Mauléon of Loudun (Western France), saw an "obvious symbiosis" between the oak tree, the rocky soil and the truffle. He attempted to reproduce such an environment by taking acorns from trees known to have produced truffles, and planting them in chalky soil. His experiment worked, as truffles were found in the soil around these newly grown oak trees years later.

While there are many varieties, here are the “big three”:

The Black Summer Truffle (Tuber aestivum) or The Burgundy Truffle (Tuber uncinatum), are harvested September to December and have delicate hazelnut aroma (milder compared to the Black Périgord. Both are found across Europe and are prized for their culinary value at a retail price of $40/ounce.

The Black Truffle or Black Périgord Truffle (Tuber melanosporum) – Named after the Périgord region in France, they have a more intense flavor and pungent aroma. These are harvested in late November to March and have a retail price of $85/ounce.

Alba Truffle (Tuber magnatum) or just simply known as the “White Truffle” – These highly desired white truffles are found mainly in the forested areas of northern Italy. These be cultivated as described previously, which adds to the rarity and price. Harvested from September to the end of December, these fetch a retail price of $200+/ounce.

In 2016, nearly 2,000 tons were harvested in Europe and those numbers have been dwindling, while demand among chefs is growing.

Let’s take a look at several cheesemakers and see how they include truffles into their cheeses:

One of the newest on the market is made by Président®. Their Creamy Brie with Truffles is a spreadable dip that can also be used as an awesome sandwich spread. Great flavor and aroma. Made from Cow’s milk.

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor® – This beautiful Goat’s milk cheese comes from Humboldt County in Northern California. It has a dense, earthy paste that ripens from the outside edge inward. I served this on a crusty French bread with La Malva Rosa Miele al Tartufo® truffled honey . The two truffle experiences did not compete, but instead wonderfully complemented each other. This cheese won Best of Class, at the U.S. Cheese Championshipin 2019.

The final truffle cheese was the classic Moliterno al Tartufo from Central Fromaggi® . This semi-hard Sheep’s milk cheese come from Italy and is infused with deep veins of Black Summer Truffles. It’s no wonder that this cheese has won World Cheese Awards for 2016-17, as well as 2017-18. This cheese was the perfect table cheese and simply served it with slices of apple.

So there you have it. A cow’s milk, a goat’s milk, and a sheep’s milk truffle cheese….No truffle hunting dog or pig required. No digging around roots of trees, just some simple digging through the local cheese cases.

Can’t find some of these. I am sure that your local cheesemonger has access to them and so many more.

Truffle Tremor

Fluffy bloom surrounds a gooey ring, ever encroaching on the tender center. Proud flavors cooperate, not battle, in every lofty wedge.

Quick Facts

Country of Origin: United States
Milk Type/Treatment: Pasteurized Goat
Rennet Type: Microbial

The Flavor Experience

A classic bloomy-rind goat&rsquos cheese gets all dolled up with Italian black truffles! The familiar tang of the goat&rsquos milk and the unique, ever-desired aroma of the truffle could battle it out, but decide they had best cooperate in Truffle Tremor. In this union of two robust flavors, neither drowns the other out, so don&rsquot worry about picking sides.

The Story

Mary Keehn is the entrepreneur cheesemaker behind the famed Cypress Grove creamery, the maker of Humboldt Fog, one of the beacons of the American artisan cheese industry. She started raising goats in the 1970's and realized a talent for breeding and cheesemaking during a time when no one in America was making goat cheeses. This cheese is distinct because it is one of the first American cheeses exported to France, instead of the other way around. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of her creamery, Cypress Grove, Mary improved her goat milk classic the only way possible: she added black truffles to create the Truffle Tremor recipe. This cheese has been a top choice of Di Bruno customers since its inception. Enjoy this truffled goat's cheese with crusty bread and champagne.

Usage Tips

Tishbi&rsquos Cherry Shiraz Preserves provides a partner for both players here, the fruit latching onto the goat&rsquos milk and the wine finding fine company with the truffle. Truffle Tremor is also a tremendous cooking cheese. Its malleable texture lends itself easily to compound butters (watch out grilled meats!) or, rolled in toasted pine nuts, a to-die-for cheese ball centerpiece. Did you know it could get that good?

Cheese of the Week: Cheese Truffle tremor

If you are looking for a decadent, sinfully complex cheese to complete your Valentine's meal, you won't find anything more luxurious than a silky, soft-ripened goat cheese studded with truffles. Truffle Tremor ripened chevre is an offering from one of my favorite dairies, Cypress Grove Chevre in Northern California.

It is very similar to Cypress Grove's flagship ripened goat cheese Humboldt Fog. Both are thick, head-sized wheels of goat milk curd ripened under a Penicillium mold rind, silky and runny around the edges, flaky and lemony in the center. Humboldt Fog distinguishes itself with a line of black vegetable ash through the center and an ash dusting on the surface. Truffle Tremor dispenses with the ash and adds instead bits of black summer truffles from Northern Italy.

I talked to Bob McCall, Cypress Grove's director of sales and marketing, about Truffle Tremor.

"About five years ago," he said, "our founder Mary Keehn was wanting to make another flavored fresh goat cheese. Purple Haze (a fresh chevre dish flavored with fennel pollen and lavender) is our most popular fresh cheese. She started thinking about truffles and saw no one else was using them, so she got some and we combined them with the fresh goat cheese.

"It was horrible," he said with a laugh. "Neither of the flavors were what they were alone — they bounced off each another, it was acidic, it was just a mess. We were getting ready to throw it out when Mary said we should at least try ripening some of it to see what happened. So she made some wheels of different sizes and stuck them back in the ripening room and we all sort of forgot about it. Then a few weeks later she pulled them out. We let them sit to get up to room temperature and then tried them. I remember it so well. You could have heard a pin drop. We were all sitting there looking at each other, wondering if everyone else was feeling the same thing. It was such a hit."

Since then, Truffle Tremor has brought Cypress Grove many awards, including the Gold Award for best Outstanding Cheese or Dairy Product at the 2009 National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Show.

The taste of the cheese is difficult to describe — goat cheese and truffles are both pungent and earthy, and the cheese is definitely that. But like McCall said, the combination of the flavors creates a whole far larger than the sum of the parts — only in the ripened version of Truffle Tremor, it's a good thing. A very good thing.

Tangy, savory, deep, bright, musky, lemony, silky, tingly, rich, clean. It's all these and more.

To add even more complexity, the cheese changes at it ages — the thicker the runny area near the rind, the riper and earthier it is.

When I enjoy Truffle Tremor, I have it absolutely alone. No fruit, no bread, no wine. I don't want anything to interrupt my little moment of heaven. I suggest eating it in a dim, candlelit room, with your fingers.

Barring that, enjoy Truffle Tremor with accompaniments according to its age — serve the young, still-lemony cheese with unoaked white wines such as Vouvray and sauvignon blanc, or a light but strong beer such as barley wine or a Belgian golden ale. With more ripeness, a red Zinfandel or Pinot Noir are good matches, and enjoy a strong, runny-ripe cheese with Port, Sherry, Sauternes, a big Cabernet, or a heavy doppelbock beer. Keep the crackers or bread thin, plain and simple. For more pairing suggestions, visit www.cypressgrovechevre.com and look for pairing guides in the newsroom.

If you must include Truffle Tremor in an entree, I can think of no better way to highlight it than in this compound butter recipe from Cypress Grove.

Truffle Tremor Steak Butter

6 ounces of butter at room temperature (softened)

8 ounces Truffle, rind removed and interior crumbled into small pieces.

1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves finely minced

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¾ teaspoon freshly ground coarse black pepper

1 In a bowl, cream the butter until smooth

2 Fold in the cheese, Worcestershire sauce, sage and pepper. Form into 1.5 inch roll and roll into parchment paper. Twist the ends to close

3 If not using immediately, refrigerate (3 days maximum) or freeze (2 months, maximum)

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor

It’s not too often that I hear customers telling me how they lust after a specific cheese. But when it comes to Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor, the phrase is all too common. It is a ripened goat’s milk cheese, similar to Humboldt Fog, but with delicious bits of truffle scattered throughout. The white paste is almost cake-like in texture and you can see the truffles throughout. As the cheese ripens, the cream line becomes thicker and slightly buttery in flavor. Over all, Truffle Tremor has a tangy, yet deep earthy flavor. The truffles compliment the cheese well, having the perfect balance as to not be overpowering. Truffle Tremor is a must-try for goat cheese and truffle lovers alike! My favorite wine to pair it with is Francois Labet L’Ile de Beaute Pinot Noir, though there are many other lighter reds that compliment it well! Just writing this post has had me drooling–I think I’ll need to have a piece for lunch with some crusty baguette!

Truffle Tremor

Fresh Goat cheese and truffles. What a fabulous idea. Like bread and chocolate, wine and roses, it would make a beautiful coupling. Mary Keehn, proprietress of Cypress Grove Chevre, just knew it. “Once we had sourced a steady supply of truffles we went about making it. We were all so excited to try it. Goat cheese and truffles. How could it not be yummy?”

Instead of yum, Keehn describes it as “a fight going on in my mouth. The bright acid of the goat cheese didn’t want anything to do with the earth flavor of the truffles.”

She could’ve scrapped the whole project, but since she had made a large batch, she decided to hold out. “Frugal gal that I am, we inoculated it and put it in the aging room to ripen.” The transformation began and, in 2009, a mellower Truffle Tremor was born.

“That’s the really fun thing about cheese,” says Keehn of the affinage process. “It starts off looking and tasting one way but a few weeks later it’s different again. If you care for it properly, you can really have a lot of fun with cheese and wine parties. The wine you use when it is a young cheese is very different from the wine you use with a mature cheese.”

As Truffle Tremor aged, the earthy flavor of the truffles and the creamy texture of the ripened cheese proved to be a winning combination.

Winning indeed. In 2014, Truffle Tremor won Super Gold in the World Cheese Awards First Place from the American Cheese Society (in 2009 and 2012 too) and First Place in the World Championship Cheese Contest. Other awards include: Sofi Award for Outstanding Cheese or Dairy in 2009, and Gold in the California State Fair Cheese Competition in 2009 and 2010.

“I think one of the most satisfying things about Truffle Tremor is how the texture of the cheese matches the flavor,” says Keehn. Its popularity spawned many imitators, some-thing she finds flattering. Considering the high cost of harvesting Italian black truffles and producing goat cheese, “we think Truffle Tremor is quite a bargain among truffle goat cheeses.”

The cheese’s moniker relates to truffles coming from underground, but it also has to do with its birthplace. “Humboldt County has its own bit of underground culture,” says Keehn, “and we live in earthquake country. The name just worked.”

Keehn founded Cypress Grove Chevre, an idyllic 80-acre goat farm in Arcata, Humboldt County, CA in 1983. “Our surroundings are unique. It’s where the California redwoods hit the ocean. The redwoods need the high moisture from the ocean, so that creates the fog. It’s literally part of the air we breathe.”

Keehn’s first cheesy dream started it all about 27 years ago. Keehn went to France to learn the cheesemaking process. On the airplane home, she dreamt about the cheese that would become her star, Humboldt Fog. “It was kind of floating in air — the exact picture of the cheese. When I got home I thought, I’m going to make this cheese.”

Keehn believes there would be no Truffle Tremor without ‘big sister’ Humboldt Fog. “It really is a dream come true. We literally wouldn’t be here today without it.” CC

Cheese of the Week: Humbolt Fog

For a month or two now, my fiance Shay, has been asking me to do Humbolt Fog as the ‘Cheese of the Week’ but I was having way too much fun discovering new cheeses on my own, plus visiting some old favorites. Finally, this week when we were grocery shopping, he picked up a piece and placed it in our cart insisting that I try it.

Maddie came over for dinner this week and I had decided to save the cheese tasting for this occasion so she could see what all the fuss was about too. I wish Shay could have been there to see the looks on our faces when we first tried the cheese. Clearly, I should have listened to Shay weeks ago when he first suggested I try this fantastic, unique cheese.

Humbolt Fog is a ripened goat’s milk cheese with a soft rind and a layer of vegetable ash in the middle and around the exterior of the cheese. Depending on the ripeness of the cheese, its outermost layer just under the rind is very creamy, and carries the strongest flavor of the cheese. Similar to most goat cheese, the longer it ripens, the stronger the flavors get. Humbolt Fog comes from Cypress Grove, the makers of another favorite Cheese of the Week: Truffle Tremor. Cypress Grove is a California company that started when a woman named Mary Keehn wanted to raise goats to produce healthy milk for her children, and ended up needing to find a use for the surplus milk. Hard as it is for us to believe today (I personally can’t imagine), just 25 years ago most chevre was only available in Europe.

Like its sister cheese, Truffle Tremor, Humbolt Fog has an earthy quality to it, and while it’s stronger in the creamy layer next to the rind, it is not overwhelming. Maddie and I enjoyed it with some garlic crackers, but it would be perfect with some tart fruit(like raspberries), perhaps in a salad, or just on a cheese plate. It’s almost too good to be mixed in with something else.

So let this be a public apology: Shay, I should have listened sooner. Apparently, I am not the only cheesepert in the family.

Look for "Truffle Tremor" cheese

A week or so ago I was at the Whole Foods on River street in Cambridge choosing a couple of cheeses when the young woman suggested I try Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor. She gave me a taste, and I was hooked.

From what I've read it's fairly new from Cypress Grove and it's Humbolt Fog without the ash but with truffles!

Yesterday they cut into a new wheel for me at Westland Ave Whole Foods, and it was perfection- flaky goaty center, buttery ripe layer near the bloomy rind.

If you are near either store stop in and get a taste-- it is in the case at both places and it is pricy (23.99 lb) but you only need a little to add character to a cheese plate.

I wrote it up for my blog so I called Formaggio and Russos to see whether they had it available. Formaggio in Cambridge said that they don't carry Cypress Grove and Russos does carry the brand but said, "not yet" about the Truffle Tremor. (Photos and a few other opinions other than mine are included with my blog post.)

Let me know if you find it elsewhere in the area, I have a few friends who would adore this and I'd love to have a few more places to recommend." And, I hope that Russo's may have it at a lower price.